Gramma’s Muffins

This is how I used to make Gramma’s Raisin Bran Muffins:

1. Make muffins.

Time < 1 hour.


This is how I made Gramma’s Raisin Bran Muffins today:

1. Set out baking soda, measure 1 cup of water, put water in kettle on stove to boil.

2. Tell Seva to stop jumping at the counters. Put her behind gate. Wash hands.

3. Stir 1 ½ t. baking soda into 1 c. boiling water. Set aside to cool.

4. Set out: flour, sucanat (or sugar), vegetable oil, eggs.

5. Talk to Seva a lot to try and distract her from jumping at the doors and walls in her little cordoned off area.

6. Cream 1 c. sucanat and ½ c. oil with hand mixer.

7. Realize Seva is peeing on the floor. Scoop her up and run outside.

8. Return to the kitchen. Wash hands.

9. Beat 2 eggs and 2 ½ c. flour into sucanat and oil.

10. Let Seva outside because she is pawing at the door. Stand in the door and watch her. When she squats, holler “Better go now,” the potty cue. Call her in, give her a treat for a successful recall. Wash hands.

11. Stir into batter the cooled water and baking soda.

12. Let Seva outside. Bring her inside. Give her an ice cube to occupy her for two minutes. Wash hands.

13. Stir into batter 2 c. soymilk (or butter milk) and 1 ½ t. salt.

14. “Kennel.” Wait for Seva to obey. She knows what I want but does not want to be crated, so this takes a few minutes. She looks at me. I look at the crate. Finally, after circling my legs—puppy procrastination—she enters the crate. Shut it. Click and treat. Wash hands.

15. Stir into batter 2 c. All Bran cereal, 1 c. Bran Flakes, 1 c. raisins.

16. Let Seva outside because she’s been doing her high-pitched squeak the whole time and I don’t know if it’s saying, “I want attention,” or “I really have to go!”

17. Watch Seva run into bushes. Call her back. Pull mulch out of her mouth. Give her a treat in exchange for the mulch. Wash hands.

18. Preheat oven to 400*. Fill muffin pan. Slide into oven. Set timer for 18 minutes.

19. Play the Retrieve Game with Seva while muffins bake.

20. Let Seva outside because she’s lost all focus. Bring her in.

21. Take muffins out of oven. Set aside to cool in pan for a few minutes.

22. Realize Seva’s chewing on the rug. Squirt it with Bitter Apple spray. Wash hands.

23. Put muffins on a cooling rack.

24. Return full attention to dog.

Time > 2 hours.


Meet the Berserker!



Roses All the Time

Lest I paint too rosy a picture, let me assure you, it is not roses all the time around here.

The Wonder Dog is, by definition, wonderful. She is also a puppy. Seva is 3 in human years. I know this not because I googled a dog-human years calculator, but because I have raised a child.

Seva has been teething since we got her, and we were prepared with plenty of chew toys. Now, however, she is frequently overcome by the urge to leap and bite. My robe has been punctured and a pair of pajama pants torn. I am using Bitter Apple like it’s bug spray.

She has two speeds: berserk and crashed. We know she is about to crash because the berserker in her amps up. Sound like any toddlers you know?

Tearing around the yard at full speed is cute as can be. Trying to dig under the deck is not. We’ve had a whole slew of thunder storms this week, so it’s extra muddy.

This morning, I took her out to do her business and after roaming around for a while, biting low hanging branches and eating clover, I patted my thigh and announced “inside.” Seva plunked her fanny down and stared at me–a clear stand-off. I scooped her up and reminded her I am still bigger than she is. Again, sound like any toddlers you know?

And then there’s potty training. I take her out and she’s so distracted by the grass that it takes her 15 minutes to go. Or she doesn’t realize she has to go until it’s too late and we have a puddle on the floor.

I’m almost too embarrassed to mention this. We have a pair of mallards that we feed. Seva likes to eat duck shit.

Seva and Lola.

I am counting the days until Seva turns 4!


Seva’s First Week–so far

Life with a new puppy is a lot like life with a baby/toddler. She gets us up several times a night to go out to the yard. (Thank goodness this is a spring litter!) She cries for attention. We can’t leave the house until she has been fed and visited the little dog’s yard. We have to pack toys and treats if we take her somewhere. She is full speed or nothing. Everything goes in her mouth. The only time she isn’t carefully supervised is when she is sleeping or crated. Everyone who sees her wants to touch her. And of course, she’s beyond adorable, which pretty much makes up for the hassle factor.

What a sweet face.

Seriously. You’d go stumbling around the backyard in your bathrobe at 2:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 6:00 a.m. for this face, wouldn’t you?

And like a baby, there was a lot to prepare. Puppies need a layette, too. Here’s Seva’s.

Most of Seva's possessions.

Seva’s birth parents (and their human families) sent her home with some of those toys, and we have been happy to have them! I also bought baby gates and a new rug for the kitchen. The old one was apparently edible. Her favorite indoor toy is called Hide-a-Squirrel, though clearly those are chipmunks.

After just two days, I had to loosen her collar. It is amazing how quickly she is growing. She was only 1 pound at birth and 11 pounds when I got her, at 7 1/2 weeks old. She grew to over 10 times her size in only 7 weeks. A human baby could take 10 years to grow from 10 pounds to 100 pounds. Not only is her growth rate incredibly fast, relative to ours, but her learning rate is, too. This is why training begins immediately. As with humans, there are windows for optimal socializing and learning. Part of the trainer’s job is to take advantage of those windows and guide the puppy’s development.

And now, being completely sleep deprived after 4 days with the Seva puppy, I have run out of intelligible things to write. Here’s a video.

Bringing Baby Home

Today, May 11, 2012, we got to bring our puppy home. Helping Paws has its own breeding program–so the parents have gone through the training themselves and are very smart. Each litter is temporarily named with a theme. This was the superheroes litter: Aquaman, Raven, Storm, and Mystique.

Mom, Lola, was at Helping Paws, as were the human families. Here is the litter before they were given to their foster parents.

The puppies before going home with their foster families.

I applied to join the Helping Paws program back in early December, so this felt like a long time coming, and at last, a puppy! I was given Raven. Each foster family has the honor of giving the puppy his or her permanent name.

My first time holding our puppy. Lola is behind us.

And here is the proud Foster Dad, Scott.

Scott & puppy in the Helping Paws training center.

Our first task once we got home was to give her dinner, which was also our first training session. I clicked the clicker as I hand fed her, a technique called “loading the clicker.” It is a classic Pavlovian technique.

Loading the clicker.


She loves to be outside and to run–with her tiny bladder, we got to go outside quite a few times tonight!

Her first experience with a collar & leash.

And now, she is worn out after a big day. It’s time to slip her into her crate and hope the next potty-break doesn’t come too early.

Big day for a little puppy.


Her name is Seva (Say-vuh).

It is a Sanskrit word that means“giving without expectation.”